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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In the previous exercise, I promised to tell you those of you who are interested, how I extracted the numbers from that clock face, and gave them drop shadows. That's exactly what I'm going to do inside of this exercise. The name of this document that I'm showing you right now is Floating numbers.psd, and right behind the Numbers layer here is a layer called Green, this dynamic Fill Layer. I'm going to go ahead and turn it on, because I want you to see that the numbers are indeed floating that they're completely separate from the clock face at this point and so are these tick-marks right here.
Then if we go to the Numbers layer and expand the layer effects, you can see that there is a drop shadow associated with these numbers. I'll turn it off, and then I'll turn it back on. So the remarkable thing is not the drop shadows, drop shadow is fairly easy to create, and we'll be talking about drop shadows later when we discuss layer effects of course. But the more difficult thing to do is to extract the numbers using basically a masking technique as you'll see. We're not talking about masking for several chapters and yet, for some reason, I just can't resist showing you some masking techniques inside of this transformation chapter.
Anyway, that's a pretty useful technique as you'll see. So here's what we're going to do. I want you to go down to the Clock Face layer, and I want you to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of clock face in order to view this layer independently of all the other layers inside the image and then just to make sure we don't run into any problem. So let's go ahead and Click on that layer to make it active. So I was telling you, when you're working with masking, White means selected and Black means deselected. So these numbers are just ready to select themselves right now. Instant maps, just waiting to happen. So let's go over to the Channels palette. You'll now see the Red, Green, and Blue channels associated with this clock face. They're all going to be the same because I leached the color out of the clock.
So there is no emphasis of red over green, over blue, they're all identical to each other. You can check that out just by Clicking on the Red channel or the Green channel or the Blue channels. Now, you may wonder why in the world are they all of a sudden lighter than the RGB composite? They should be identical to it too, because there is no color going on. The reason that the RGB composite is darker is because the RGB composite image is color-corrected whereas, the Red, Green and Blue channels are not. So that's just the way Photoshop works essentially. They are identical. We're just seeing them differently.
So let's grab any one of these channels, it doesn't matter which one. I'm going to grab the Red channel, and I'm going to drag it down on a little Page icon, and drop in order to create this Alpha channel right here. So I just duplicated the Red channel to an Alpha channel to a non-color-bearing channel, that has no bearing. That is to say on the colors inside of the composite image. I'm going to call this guy something like my numbers because I've already got that Numbers channel just sitting right there, that I created before. So my numbers, plural, I guess. Then we need to set about making everything, but the numbers black. So we're going to do that in a couple of passes. First thing I'm going to do is press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box and I'm going to drag the black point all the way to the other side of that big, massive hump which represents all the darkish grays inside of the clock face.
So that's done. That was pretty easy. I might as well make the white just a little bit wider, so that I'm including all of the white colors that aren't quite white. We need them to be white too. So why don't we take this value down to 245. So 85, 245, don't worry about the gamma value, this is good, Click OK. What about this white area outside? It's not numbers out here. Well, I mean we're looking in a circle folks, so it's not too hard to select. So go ahead and grab the Elliptical Marquee tool right there and then let's just drag around the clock face like so. You can use the Spacebar of course to go ahead and position it properly. In just a moment, I'll select too much of the background. Of course right now I have the foreground selected, I have the clock face selected.
So I'll go up to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command, Ctrl+Shift+I, Command+Shift+I on the Mac. That selects the area outside right here and now, I'll note that my foreground color is black, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill that area with black. Hey! What about that guy in the inside there? I need to get rid of it too. So I Clicked off the selection in order to deselect it. I'll select this area as well, and press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill it with black, and then we've got some little nibbles here and there that we need to take care of. So I'll press Ctrl+D this time, Command+D on a Mac to deselect the image. I'll grab my Brush tool right there, and I'll make sure that I have a hard brush, 40 pixels, fine. I do want it to be hard though, because if it has any softness associated with it, I might kind of blur into the numbers, and that would be bad.
So this is a good brush. I'll paint here and here, and maybe here, and wherever else I see problems, but I don't see anymore problem, so we're done. There is a mask, people. That was so easy. Masking is so easy sometimes, once you come to terms with it. I'll be showing you harder masks when we get to the Masks chapter. This is a good opportunity for us to just embrace masks and know that they're there, and know that we don't have to go hunting for the Quick Selection tool and the Magic Wand tool, in many, many cases, we can do the jobs more simply just by going to the Channels palette here.
So anyway, now you Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on this mask right there and that will load the mask as a selection outline. Go back to your RGB composite image, go back to the Layers palette, Alt+Click or Option+Click on that eyeball to restore the layer composition like so. Then let's get rid of that Green layer, we don't need it. Let's get rid of that Numbers layer too, so that we can see what we're doing. Actually, you know what? Let's turn the Green layer back on for a moment, so that we really get a sense of what we're up to here. I'll Click on it to make it active. Now, I'm going to create a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and I'll call this layer Floating Numbers or something like that. Then I'll Click OK.
Now, all I need to do is fill the selection with white by pressing Ctrl+Backspace, Command+Delete on the Mac, and we now have some floating numbers right there. Click off to deselect the numbers, got them, look at them. They look great. We already have a drop shadow created in advance. You can make your own drop-shadow if you want to by going down to the FX icon and choosing Drop Shadow. But I tell you what? It's already done for us. I just grab the FX from this Numbers layer right there, the one I created for you, and drag it onto here, and the job is done. Look at that. Now, you got numbers with drop shadow. My goodness! Turn off the Green layer, and the deed is done, the job is done. The clock is wonderful. We could go back in time and sell it to the masters. I know who'd want to do that? If you had a time machine, that's the last thing you'd want to do. But still, we have completed the clock, which I think is heck of an accomplishment. In the next exercise, we're going to take a look at skews and perspective style distortions.
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